As you enter a stressful season of tests, assessments, exams and deadlines for assignments and projects it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the stress of expectations placed by teachers, parents and even ourselves. Most people would think then "OK - I better focus on doing my work and studying and cut down on other things during this time."
Naturally, we would choose to minimise activities associated with leisure (Social Media, Movies, Games, Hobbies etc) - which may even include church. I can understand why - exams and finals can be extremely stressful (I often have nightmares of going into an exam hall being absolutely unprepared). The last thing I want to do is to guilt trip any one into coming to church, however I do feel that skipping church during exam season is not a good thing. Here are some thoughts:
1. Church is not just "any other thing" that we do.
Going to church and being in a community of believers is part of our worship and relationship with God. By all means cut down on entertainment and distractions - but don't cut down on God! God can be our source of strength, comfort, peace and even discipline - we need more of God during times that are tough and when pressure is high, not less of Him!
2. There is ALWAYS enough time.
I am of the firm belief that if God gave us 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week - there should be enough time for us to get what we need done. It is a matter of priorities, discipline and boundaries. Plan out your week efficiently, set aside time for what is important and here's a great tip: get off social media, put your phone away and even stay away from the Internet (if possible)! You will be amazed at how much time can be wasted on social media... get rid of distractions and get organised! Let's be honest - if you feel like you hardly ever have enough time, it isn't because you have lack of it; it just means you need to maximise your schedule or that you are taking on way too much.
3. Learn to praise with your problems and move with the mess.
I don't want to sound like a doomsayer, but as you get older life actually gets harder and most of the time pressures increase rather than decrease. I am not downplaying the effects exams can have of us, but if we do not develop a habit of putting God first in the midst of exams life is just going to give us more and more reasons not to in the future. Jobs, bills, kids all can contribute to "good reasons" why we cannot make it to church - hence all the more we should make a decision while we are a student to make God our first priority and not our last resort.
Now, I am not trying to imply that we should rock up at church NO MATTER WHAT. I am sure there will be genuine emergencies or compulsory activities that would force us to miss church from time to time - but it is a conscious decision on our part not to make skipping worship and being in community a habit.
Its not like God NEEDS us there. God will still be God even if we don't show up, and His power and presence is not dependant on us.
I may not be sure of many things in life, but one thing that I am absolutely certain of is this - those who choose to honour God will never lose out in life.
Here's a prayer for you to pray if you are going through exams and finals: